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Wednesday, 05 August 2020
The Morrison Government is further boosting its work to keep Australians safe online, today announcing an additional $10 million in funding for Australia’s world-leading eSafety Commissioner.
Member for Reid, Dr Fiona Martin MP, said this funding boost is vital in light of new research from the eSafety Commissioner indicating that Australian families need support while navigating online risks.
“The pandemic has seen our behaviours change in the way we use the internet,” Dr Martin said. “I know from speaking to families in my electorate that we are spending more time online to work, study and socialise because of social distancing.”
“The research shows that even as restrictions ease and we return to COVID safe school and work environments, many of us are maintaining our new digital habits, relying on the internet more than ever before,” Dr Martin stated.
The COVID-19 impact on Australian adults’ online activities and attitudes report found there has been a significant increase in online activity, with 56 per cent of respondents using the internet a lot more for one or more tasks.
The research found the overwhelming majority of adults in Australia view the internet as a ‘good thing’ personally (86 per cent), for their household (85 per cent) and for Australian society (79 per cent). However, more time spent online increases the risks of online harms, with almost four in 10 respondents reporting negative experiences online during the first few months of the pandemic.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said research from eSafety shows that Australians have embraced rapid digitisation of workplaces, schools and households during COVID-19, which underpins the need for a continued focus on online safety.
“Some people choose to use the internet for harm instead of good,” Minister Fletcher said. “In recent months, we’ve seen more people reporting negative experiences online and people turning to eSafety for guidance more often with website page views across more than doubling, and image-based abuse reports up 200 per cent.”
“This funding will help eSafety continue the important work it does educating people – from young children all the way up to older Australians – equipping them with practical tips on how to stay safe online.”
Dr Martin said that the funding will also go a long way in supporting the eSafety Commissioner’s work in investigating online abuse, which has spiked during the coronavirus pandemic because of the increase in screen time.
“This funding boosts eSafety’s investigations and support teams across the image-based abuse and cyberbullying functions so that there is help available to Australians when things go wrong online,” Dr Martin said.
“This is especially important to protect anyone who may be vulnerable to online abuse, especially children, from these sorts of harmful behaviours.”
The report also found that during COVID-19 parents were twice as likely as adults who are not parents to rely on the internet for key activities - and three times as likely to find using the internet stressful.  This reflects the central role the internet plays in households with young families and demand for additional support.
The funding boost will, amongst other improvements, mean the eSafety Commissioner can continue to deliver its successful Early Years program, which helps young children navigate the web safely from their earliest interactions online.
Read the full COVID-19 impact on Australian adults’ online activities and attitudes report here:
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Media Contacts
Vanessa Papastavros | 02 9715 7444 |